The following are some tips to make your Rideau cycling journey a safe and pleasant experience
- Type of Bicycle - basically whatever you normally use. Since most of the touring will be on paved roads, a road or hybrid bike is best. Be aware though that the shoulders of many of the local roads are gravel or sand (favouring wider tires). Mountain bikes have more rolling resistance, and hence require more effort for the same distance. However they are handy if you decide to go "offroad" and explore a trail or gravel backroad.
- Maintenance - your bicycle should be in good condition - check tires and brakes before you start. Carry a pump, a spare tube, patch kit and a basic tool kit to remove and replace the wheel, tire and tube, and for minor adjustments.
- Equipment - carry sufficient food and water. Ensure that you are adequately prepared for hot, cold or wet weather. Also carry a road map of Eastern Ontario.
- Wear a Helmet - for adults this is matter of personal preference but for those highway cycling under the age of 18, it's the law. The helmet should be specifically designed for bicycle riding. To quote the law: "No person [amended by regulation to exempt those 18 years of age or older] shall ride on or operate a bicycle on a highway unless the person is wearing a bicycle helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin."
- Dress Visibly - The brighter the better. A blaze orange safety vest with reflective stripes is a good investment, it can be worn over any type of clothing. Most of the Rideau tours are on roads with some traffic - so BE VISIBLE.
- Dress Appropriately - In rain, wear a rain cape or rain coat and pants. Dress in layers for temperature changes.
- Use Packs or Racks - Saddlebags, racks, baskets, small backpacks - all are good ways to carry packages, freeing your hands for safe riding. Let your bicycle be the packhorse
- Use Lights at Night - Bicycling along roadways at night is not recommended, however, if you must then be sure to use a strong headlight, rear reflector and/or tail light, and wear reflective clothing (i.e. safety vest).
- Watch for Chasing Dogs - Ignore them or try a firm, loud "NO". If the dog doesn't stop, dismount with your bike between you and the dog. Do not risk a collision with a vehicle while trying to avoid the dog.
- Use Hand Signals - Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. Signal as a matter of law, of courtesy, and of self-protection. In some right-turn situations, an outstreched arm is more visible to those behind you. Signal before you turn (not during) and keep both hands on the handlebars at all other times.
To quote the law:
How to signal manually - when the signal is given by means of the hand and arm, the driver or operator shall indicate his or her intention to turn;
- to the left, by extending the hand and arm horizontally and beyond the left side of the vehicle; or
- to the right, by extending the hand and arm upward and beyond the left side of the vehicle.
- a person on a bicycle may indicate the intention to turn to the right by extending the right hand and arm horizontally and beyond the right side of the bicycle.
- Keep Both Hands Ready to Brake - You may not stop in time if you brake with one hand. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, since wet brakes are less efficient. Make sure you have practised emergency braking, putting more pressure on the back brake so that you don't fly over the handlebars in an emergency stop.
- Scan the Road Behind - Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left. Practice in an empty parking lot until you are confident in your ability to check over either shoulder without swerving your bike.
- Obey Traffic Signs and Signals - In order to be take seriously, cyclists must obey the rules of the road. Stopping and dismounting at red lights and stop signs. Yielding to pedestrians and staying off sidewalks. Riding with traffic on one way streets.
- Yield to traffic - as long as it safe to do so, you should pull over as far to the right as you can when being overtaken by a vehicle. To quote the law;
Bicycles overtaken - Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.
- Avoid Road Hazards - Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, oily pavement, slippery manhole covers, painted lines, gravel and ice. Cross railroad tracks carefully at right angles. For better control, stand up on your pedals as you cross bumps.
- Keep a high pedaling cadence - a cadence of 60 to 100 rpm is recommended when cycling on flats and up hills. A high cadence and a low gear-ratio reduces the stress on your legs and knees because less effort is required for each turn of the pedals.
- Use Bicycle Shoes - A pair of cycling shoes and clip-less pedals will reduce the stress on each leg because you can pull up on one pedal while pushing down on the other.
- Use a Bicycle Computer - not only are these fun to use, but they are useful in indicating the distance travelled and your average speed. A waterproof model is best.
- Drink Liquids - carry enough water so that you can remain hydrated while cycling. Drink at regular intervals, even if you don't feel thirsty. A few "power bars" are also handy to keep hunger at bay.
- Sun Gear - wear sunglasses and use liberal amounts of sun screen. Glasses should always be worn when cycling trails to keep debris and branches out of your eyes.
- Riding Comfort - it is recommended that you go "au naturel" under your cycling shorts since underwear tends to chafe those sensitive regions.
- Carry a cellphone - in case of emergency, this can be a lifesaver. However, be aware that there may be gaps in cellphone coverage depending on your phone provider.
- Carry a GPS Unit - this is optional and should be in addition to paper maps (in case of battery failure). If using a GPS in your cellphone, if it is a stand-alone GPS then use a map app that can work offline so that you will still have maps and navigation in dead-zone areas.